New Delhi, Aug 22: Kerala is struggling to find its feet after the devastating deluge left 231 dead in a fortnight and displaced over 14 lakh people. While financial and technical aid is pouring from all spheres and around the world, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday declared that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has offered Rs 700 crore to help rebuild the flood-hit state.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, called up Prime Minister Modi and made the offer for assistance, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in Thiruvananthapuram. PM Modi thanked him in a tweet.
However, news agency PTI quoted official sources saying that the government is unlikely to accept any foreign financial assistance for flood relief operations in Kerala. They said government has taken a considered decision to rely solely on domestic efforts to tide over the situation.
The government of Maldives has also decided to donate USD 50,000 (Rs 35 lakh) for flood affected people in Kerala.
It is understood that the UN is also offering some assistance for Kerala.
However, sources said India is unlikely to accept the assistance.
As the cabinet took stock of the havoc caused by the unprecedented floods in a century, the Centre released Rs 600 crore to Kerala and decided to waive customs duty and GST on the relief materials being imported for the affected people.
The central assistance of Rs 500 crore as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rs 100 crore by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh was released on Tuesday.
In a series of tweets, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan demanded a Rs. 2600-crore MGNREGA special package for central schemes.
The state government also asked the Centre to enhance its borrowing limit and sought permission to impose a 10 per cent cess on GST to mobilise funds for rebuilding Kerala, where 13 of its 14 districts were ravaged by monsoon rains since the first week of this month.
Under the present arrangement, Kerala can obtain three per cent of its gross state domestic product (GSDP) as loans and wants it to be raised to 4.5 per cent so the state can mobilise an additional Rs 10,500 crore from the open market.
“A comprehensive package for rehabilitation of the flood victims and to rebuild Kerala will be submitted to centre,” Vijayan told a press conference.
It was also decided to introduce a special lottery to mobilise funds for the state.
A special session of the state assembly has been convened on August 30 to discuss the situation arising from the calamitous floods.
The chief minister had earlier said the state had suffered damages of about Rs 20,000 crore.
The toll rose to 231 with recovery of eight more bodies from different parts today while over 14.50 lakh people are taking shelter in more than 3,200 relief camps a fortnight after a murderous monsoon rampaged through the state in its second spell that began on August 8, the government said.
In the past 14 years, India has refused aid from Russia, US and Japan for Uttarakhand floods in 2013, and for the Kashmir earthquake in 2005 and floods in Kashmir in 2014.
(With PTI inputs)